Corporate privatizers like Betsy DeVos, Donald Trump, Arne Duncan, and Peter Cunningham (previously Duncan’s communications director, now editor of the billionaire-funded Education Post) claim that turning public money over to operators of privately-managed contract schools (aka, “charter” schools) is the “civil rights issue of our time.”
But the authentic voice of the civil rights movement–the NAACP–does not agree. Last summer, the national convention of the NAACP passed a resolution calling for a moratorium on new charter schools until important issues of accountability were addressed and corrected. Despite a concerted effort to persuade the national board of the NAACP to repudiate the resolution, despite critical editorials in the New York Times and the Washington Post, the Board upheld the resolution at its meeting last October.
Since passing and confirming the resolution, the nation’s oldest civil rights group decided to hold hearings across the country. What they learned convinced them to stand by their demand for charter accountability. Even those whose own children are enrolled in charters stuck by the resolution.
Rebecca Klein, education editor at Huffington Post, writes:
“Next month the NAACP will release a report detailing what the task force found. HuffPost, through conversations with several task force leaders, received a glimpse into what these findings might look like.
“After spending time in seven cities, NAACP Task Force on Quality Education chair Alice Huffman says she is more convinced than ever that the call for a moratorium was the correct decision. The election of Trump, and his subsequent appointment of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, has given the issue specific urgency. DeVos, a notorious champion of school choice, would like to see more charter schools, and her department’s proposed budget has put funding behind them.
“Nobody is convinced … after going all across the country, that the moratorium was wrong,” said Alice Huffman, president of the California NAACP. “My mind wasn’t as made up as it is now.”
Advocates of privatization continue to defend charters, even though they are more segregated than public schools and have higher suspension rates. Supporters of the privatized schools deny that they cherrypick students and point to small test score gains.
I am very impressed that the NAACP did not succumb to the big-money behind the privatization movement. That shows their genuine commitment to the children and families for whom they fight.
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